Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Atomic Adventures

Theme Song of the Day:
  1. "Slice of Heaven", theme song from 'Footrot Flats' by Dave Dobbyn


Indie Travel has its perks: the thrill of not knowing what lies around the next corner, where you will sleep tonight, or what adventures tomorrow will bring…

It also has its frustrations though.  Because it was so easy to get that killer $5/day rental deal from Christchurch to Queenstown, I figured that it would be simple to find a great deal to get our way back to Christchurch… not so. 

After 2 hours at the airport internet kiosk, on the phone, and visiting all the car rental outlets, there were no good deals to be found.  It would have even been cheaper to catch a flight back to Christchurch, or even Wellington had they not all been sold out. 

At times like these, you really appreciate having a friend in the business.  With a tip from EntirelyKiwi, we ended up booking a couple of seats on the Atomic Shuttle for only $30 – slightly more than the cost of our cab back to town.

The six-hour bus ride would take us on the direct route back via Tekapo and yet even more spectacular scenery, and get us into Christchurch at 10 o’clock that night.  We get the cool kids’ seat at the back of the bus and settle in for the epic journey north with our new travelmates. 

On one side sits a young Aussie named Lucky, who hangs off the side of skyscrapers with a bucket and squeegee to earn a living, and is on his way to North America in search of new adventures.  He’s sick of hitch-hiking this route and has decided to do it the easy way this time.  Kathy sits on our other, an India-born American from Georgia, who is studying pharmacology in Las Vegas, and is in the final days of a 6-week trip across New Zealand - her first solo travel adventure.  She ‘s just survived her first skydiving experience just the day before.

We wind through giant brown hills, follow bubbling creeks and rushing rivers, skirt massive mirror lakes as the afternoon sun silently backlights everything with an intense drama that culminates in a mad rush to pile out of the bus and snap a few shots of Mount Aoraki as the sun sets.

The bus drops us about a block from Christchurch town square half an hour earlier than our ETA, and we barrel out of the bus, stomachs growling, in search of room and board.  We opt for a room at the Camelot hotel for only $120/night instead of staying at the backpackers’ hostel next door.  With a heartfelt smile from behind the front desk, we are pointed in the direction of Sticky Fingers, a popular restaurant [and personal favorite of our concierge] that is right around the corner. 

As with most things in life that don’t go to plan, it all worked out in the end… and we had a great adventure getting there.  The people you meet along the way are one of the best things about Indie Travel.


Flat White Organic Free Trade Coffee …..………....…...............$3.50

Roasted Kumara Pizza at Sticky Fingers in Christchurch…………..$18

Cab ride to City Center from Queenstown Airport……………….......$25

Atomic Bus Fare from Queenstown to Christchruch [6 hours]…...$30

View of Mount Araki at dusk ….………….........................Priceless


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